Illegal Crocodile Hunter's TikTok Videos Land Him in Deep Trouble

A wannabe-Steve Irwin who filmed himself illegally catching crocodiles and posting the videos to TikTok has been charged in court and fined.

Jayden Wilson, aged 27, pleaded guilty to 12 counts of taking a protected animal in the Ross River in Townsville, Australia, between November 2020 and 2021, according to Australian news reports.

The TikToks showing the incidents, which were played to the court, showed Wilson attempting to catch the freshwater crocodiles using large nets and even lassos. Other videos on his TikTok account, @jiddys_adventures, show Wilson grabbing small juvenile crocodiles out of the water and placing them on his boat, and have garnered over 120,000 views on the app.

freshwater crocodile
Stock image of a freshwater crocodile. A man in Australia has been fined after he uploaded TikToks of himself catching these crocodiles using nets and lassos in the Ross River in Queensland. iStock / Getty Images Plus

Freshwater crocodiles, unlike their more famous saltwater crocodile cousins, mainly live in freshwater streams, lagoons, and rivers throughout the Northern Territory and northern Queensland. They have longer, more slender snouts than saltwater crocodiles, and a smaller body: adult males rarely grow longer than 8.2 feet long, compared to the 20 foot lengths saltwater crocodiles can reach.

While until recently the populations of freshwater crocodiles were thriving, over the past few decades, there has been a significant drop in numbers, primarily due to the crocodiles eating invasive and poisonous cane toads.

Freshwater crocodiles, as well as saltwater crocodiles, are protected in Australia, with wild specimens banned from being destroyed or collected without a permit from wildlife authorities. A permit is also required to keep a freshwater crocodile in captivity.

Wilson was reported for cruelty to animals to the Australian Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) in 2021 by a member of the public, according to a statement by the Queensland Department of Environment and Science. After he pleaded guilty to the charges, he was fined 12,000 Australian dollars (around $7,900). The maximum penalty for taking a protected animal is a fine of 163,000 Australian dollars ($107,000), Australian ABC news reports.

"Catching or attempting to catch freshwater crocodiles is foolish and risky behavior. It is also illegal," a spokesperson from the Queensland Department of Environment and Science said in a statement, as per Australian 7NEWS.

"They are capable of inflicting serious injuries on humans. People are reminded never provoke, harass or interfere with freshwater crocodiles—even juveniles, as they will lash out if they feel threatened or cornered."

Newsweek has asked the Queensland Department of Environment and Science by email for comment.

While there are no recorded deaths from freshwater crocodile attacks on humans, these crocodiles can still be very dangerous, with their sharp teeth causing deep lacerations if they bite. Saltwater crocodiles, on the other hand, are much more deadly: between 1971 and 2013, 106 fatalities were reported from saltwater crocodile attacks in Australia alone.

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